Revealing mistake: While Indy and Marion are in the Well of Souls, and they encounter the snakes, Indy falls to the ground only to be confronted by a hissing Cobra rearing its head. Look carefully and you'll see the snake's reflection on the safety glass between it and Indy. Briefly you can also see the torch's reflection while he's waving it around. [This has been corrected in the new DVD set. You can only see it if you have the original VHS. I think it's visible in the "making of" on the DVD as well.]
Continuity mistake: When Indy goes to save Marion in the tent he removes the handkerchief gag. But when he decides to leave her there, he puts the gag back on and some of her hair gets caught underneath the gag on one close up shot from the left. But when the camera goes to the back of Indy, her hair is no longer caught underneath the gag.
Continuity mistake: Near the beginning of the movie where Indiana is running away from the tribe of South American Indians after Belloq robs Indiana of the gold statue, in one shot you can see that the Indians are only a few meters behind Indiana, but in the next shot, they are at least 50 meters behind.
Plot hole: When Indy and Sallah visit the gentleman who translates the staff headpiece for them we hear the staff should be "six cadams high." Indy replies, "About 72 inches." Then, turning the headpiece over, "Wait - take back one cadam to honor the Hebrew God whose ark this is." So, about five feet now, right? But, when Indy goes to the map room the staff is much taller than him. If the staff is about five feet high, Indy would be around three feet tall.
00:48:25 - 00:53:05
Revealing mistake: When Indy fights the driver of the Nazi truck, he gets thrown through the windshield, and eventually ends up underneath the truck. When he is climbing underneath the truck, heading towards the back of it, you can see the trench that was dug down the middle of the road to provide the stuntman (this being one of the few stunts that Ford didn't do himself) with the extra room needed to do this feat. (This is backed up by DVD commentary. The director stated that the truck was too low to the ground so they had to dig the trench in order for there to be enough room for the stuntman).
Revealing mistake: After Indy gets behind the wheel of the truck containing the ark, he jerks the steering wheel to the right to run the pursuing jeep off the road. He then jerks the wheel to the left to hit an upcoming motorcycle. In neither case do you see his body sway with the presumably drastic swerve of the truck. Apparently this was filmed in a stationary vehicle, or one in tow that was fitted with a prop steering wheel.
Continuity mistake: In the Himalayan bar scene when the sherpas leave, Marion starts to pick up the shot glasses and puts them on a tray - there's a large group left at one end of the table, one in the middle, and two by a bowl at the other end. When she returns for the rest, the two by the bowl have vanished.
Revealing mistake: When Indy jumps across the pit to pursue the spy that took the idol, he barely makes it across, grabbing the ledge on the opposite side with his hands. When he pulls himself up, he kicks loose a rock and the entire "solid" rock wall shakes like it's nothing more than a foam wall.
Continuity mistake: When Belloq is talking to Indy and Marion in the Well of Souls, he's shown holding his hat with his right hand. But in the only over-the-shoulder shot (looking into the Well of Souls) the hat is laying on the ground and Belloq tosses a stone down with his right hand. Then the hat is back.
Factual error: When Indiana Jones is fighting the big German by the airplane, the German punches Indiana Jones on his right cheek. Indy's face and body are both knocked down to the right, in the direction of the punch. When you watch this, you can see it's impossible to be knocked down in such a way.
Continuity mistake: Before the shoot-out in Marion's bar, before the Nazis enter and ask her for the amulet, she's sitting alone at the table. She pulls the amulet out of her shirt, the chain still around her neck, and stares at it in the candlelight. The next moment the chain is not around her neck and she hangs the necklace onto the table centrepiece.
Factual error: It should be a tricky task to put an object the size of the Ark on board a German VIIC submarine; perhaps you can find enough place inside but how do you manage to introduce that bulky case through the narrow hatches of the sub? Even the torpedo load hatches were just a little more than 21 inches in diameter.
Continuity mistake: In the beginning, Indy's partner takes the idol, throws down the whip, and leaves him hanging on a ledge with the ceiling closing down to the ground. While he is hanging the you can see that the ceiling barely has enough room for Indy to fit. Indy struggles to get up which during this time he would have no room to get under, yet when he finally gets up the ceiling has risen giving him plenty of room to get under.
Continuity mistake: At the beginning of the film, Indiana Jones uses his whip to disarm a man with a handgun. The scene showing this action includes several quick shots, but as a result of the use of these multiple shots it can be seen that the whip descends twice. (Slow motion helps, but isn't required.)
Continuity mistake: When the government comes to see Indy at the University he is teaching, they enter the large room, I think it's a gymnasium. He puts the huge book on the table and one of the buckles comes undone. But when he goes to open the book to show the g-men a picture of the Ark he undoes both buckles.
00:15:30 - 00:19:30
Continuity mistake: When Indy and the Indian are entering the cave and clearing the cobwebs, you can see at least one spider on Indy's back. The next shot shows a clear, long shot of Indy's back with light reflecting on his jacket and no spiders. The next shot, the Indian notices the spiders.
Continuity mistake: The stone block Indy pushes out to create an opening which allows him and Marion to escape the Well Of Souls apparently rolls down the hill outside. We see it, in a following scene, laying about 15 feet away from the Well. But when Indy is fighting the big German guard near the airplane, one scene clearly shows the Well in the background and the dislodged stone is now laying on the hill only a few feet from the opening.
01:15:45 - 01:18:10
Continuity mistake: Just after Indiana (barely) escapes the tumbling boulder at the beginning of the movie, he leaps through a veil of spider webs, only to be held up by the native hunters and Belloq, who takes the idol from Indiana. Watch carefully - there is a thick strand of webs attached to the idol as Indy hands it to Belloq, but they disappear in the next shot as Belloq hefts the idol and holds it up in the air.
Continuity mistake: When Indy is trying to stop the truck that is supposedly carrying Marion in a basket, Indy shoots the driver as the truck heads towards a "dead end". The driver's foot hits the accelerator and the next shot opens up to a big open space where the truck tips over and explodes. The "dead end" has disappeared.
Factual error: The film starts in the year 1936, and just like the RPG Indy uses to threaten Belloq with, the MP40s (or at the earliest, MP38s) are an arms-historical anachronism in this movie. As the numbers in their names imply, the MP38 was first produced in 1938. The weapons in the movie are not the similar-looking ERMA MP-36, you can see the ribbed, vertically angled magazine holders typical for the MP40 - its predecessors had either a 30°-canted, smooth magazine holder (MP36) or a round viewing port for checking the ammo (MP38).
Factual error: The German submarine that Indy stows away on has the number 26 on its side. The U-26 was a Type IA U-boat (it came into service in 1936 and was sunk in 1940), but the sub in the movie seems to be a Type VIIB or VIIC. It's true that the two types looked fairly similar, but they were different classes of U-boat.
Factual error: At the beginning of the movie, when Indiana is looking for the temple, you can hear a bird call. It also can be heard when Indy is running from the natives. The bird is a willow ptarmigan. It lives in very cold areas in the far north of North America. Even a very directionally-challenged ptarmigan could not possibly end up in South America. You can also hear the unmistakable laughing sounds of the kookaburras, only found in Australia.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Sallah and Jones are in the Well of Souls where they are putting the sticks in the Ark to left it up. Notice Sallah stick, when he first puts it in, on the stick are no tassels. But when they both left at the same time Sallah same stick that he put in has tassels on it.
Audio problem: Watch and listen when Marion is being held prisoner in Nepal by one of the thugs. As he seizes her, she's grunting in strain/pain. We can see this in the first, frontal shot of them. However, in the following side shot (from slightly behind Marion as Toht walks over with the heated poker), Marion's mouth is completely still and almost shut, yet her sounds continue (and these sounds would have to be made with wide-spread lips).
Continuity mistake: As Indiana writes "Neolithic" on the blackboard in his classroom at the beginning of the movie, he stops and checks to see if he's spelling it right, then finishes writing it. Later shots of the board reveal the same word on the board, only either the handwriting is different or the actual structure of the word has changed.
Continuity mistake: During the scene where Indy and Marcus are with the Army intelligence agents, watch the agent who is wearing the light blue suit - at the moment when Marcus refers to a secret chamber, the agent in the blue suit has his right hand resting on top the chair that he is sitting on, but in the next shot when he replies "secret chamber" his right hand is now on his face.
Continuity mistake: The fight scene in Marion's bar clearly shows Indy using an automatic pistol to shoot at the bad guys. You can see the slide lock open when he runs out of ammo. But when the scene switches he is holding a revolver. Then when the huge guy is strangling Indy and the German says, "Shoot them, shoot them both." Indy is once again holding an automatic.
Continuity mistake: When Indy is packing his suitcase to go to Nepal, he picks up a gun that is wrapped in a piece of cloth, he tosses the gun with his left hand into his right hand and begins to unwrap the gun from the cloth by raising his right hand, so that the gun will fall into his left hand, but the gun ends up falling into Indy's right hand instead of his left hand. Slow motion helps.
Continuity mistake: In the map room, Indy pulls out a notebook and takes off the elastic band. The elastic goes flying away. Moments later he closes the book and the elastic is in his hand. Also, the elastic starts off being pink (the one that flies off), then blue (the one that he puts back onto the book) and ends as tan coloured when he puts the book back in his pocket.
Factual error: When Indiana Jones ambushes the Nazis with the Ark, he threatens them with an anti-tank rocket. This is set in 1936, and anti-tank rockets weren't developed until the American M1 in 1942. The Germans immediately copied it from captured weapons and made their own much larger version known as the Panzerschreck, then Panzerfaust. The Russian RPG which Indy is holding was developed from the Panzerfaust in 1949.
Continuity mistake: When Indy is chasing after the truck on horseback, he jumps off the horse and onto the truck, as he does this the horse begins to slow down and fall behind, but as Indy throws the German soldier in the passenger seat out of the truck the horse has disappeared, it could not have been hidden from view behind the truck, because the horse's shadow would have been visible.
Visible crew/equipment: Once Indy & Sallah have descended into the Well of the Souls, they slowly begin to approach the concrete structure that houses the Ark. As they approach, the camera pulls back to reveal the huge scale of the Well of the Souls, and across the top of the screen, in perfect silhouette, is the lighting rig.
Continuity mistake: When Belloq grabs the machine gun, his left hand is on the trigger and his right hand on the gun cartridge as he turns round with his back to the camera, but in the next shot, his right hand is on the trigger and his left hand on the cartridge but in the next shot, his hands have changed position once more, this time left hand on the trigger and right hand on the cartridge. You have to watch carefully in slow motion to see this happen.
Audio problem: At the beginning of the film, one of the guides goes to shoot Indy with a gun, but as Indy uses the whip to defend himself, the gun bounces off a rock and goes into the water. As the gun hits the rock you hear the sound of the gun firing, but there is no sign of a flash from the barrel or any gun smoke.
Continuity mistake: At the beginning of the film, When Indy uses the whip to take the guides gun away, Satipo makes a weird face and starts to move away in amazement. The very next frame, in a wider shot, he is not finishing his movements, but on the contrary he is standing still, with a normal gesture, until a second later he starts to repeat the movement and looks from before.
Factual error: When Indy flies to Nepal, there is a scene of the sea plane taking off with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. The movie is set in 1936, and the bridge wasn't completed until 1937, with pictures from December 1936 showing large gaps still in the deck that do not appear in the movie.
Continuity mistake: After hitting one thug, Indy jumps out of the way of one trying to spear him, leading to the one behind Indy getting run through. As the guy gets run through, he is in front of a hanging string of fruit, with the stacked fruit to his right. After a cut scene to Indy and Marion running away, the run through thug is now facing the fruit stand, setting up the sight gag of the blade sticking out with two fruits stuck on it.
Add timeMovie Nut
Continuity mistake: When Indiana is hiding his face with the cloth, watch as he enters the tent that Marion is being held prisoner in - at first, Indiana has to hold it in place; in the next shot, he has it tucked into the rest of the folds. The next shot, the actual position of the cloth changes.
Continuity mistake: When Indiana is fighting the Big German mechanic by the plane, the plane goes around in circles and the wing tip of the plane punctures a hole in a petrol tanker that is parked near by. This causes the petrol to gush out of the tanker and you can see that ground underneath the plane gets totally drenched with petrol. But in the later shots, the ground under the plane is dry. There is also a shot where you can see the tanker in the background not pouring petrol any more and all you can see is a little wet spot around the tanker.
Plot hole: Indy stows away on the Nazi sub on the way to the secret Nazi base somewhere near Greece. Where did he stay all that time? Inside? On a VII-Class boat, there's barely enough room for the regular crew, and hardly any places to hide. Also, everybody knows everybody, so no passing yourself off as "the new guy." Outside then maybe? Well, the boat did dive, it's in the dialog, and while on the surface, German U-boats always had a bridge watch on the tower, so no luck there either. Note that by all accounts I could find, German submarines were required to always post a bridge watch, if only because otherwise they would be running essentially blind. It's not like the helmsman's station in the tower had any windows.
Continuity mistake: After Indy rips a big strip of Marion's dress in the Well of Souls, it continues to change until she finally gets rid of it on the boat. At some points (eg. running from the plane before it explodes, and other shots) it seems quite straight across, more like a shorter dress than a torn one. A few moments later, when they are crouching behind an earth bank and Sallah tells Indy the Germans are putting the Ark on to a truck, the dress is badly ripped in various places across her back. Not long afterwards, it is in one piece again but back to the bottom edge being ripped.
01:13:00 - 01:21:35Eliza
Continuity mistake: When Indy climbs onto the pontoon of the airplane from the lagoon in the opening sequence, he is obviously wet from swimming in the lagoon. However, in the next scene as he climbs further, his clothes are miraculously dry as observed by watching them blowing freely during take-off.
Revealing mistake: The Pan American aeroplane Indiana Jones boards in San Fransisco looks similar to (but has noticeable differences from) the Boeing 314 PanAm used for transpacific flights. This aeroplane did however not fly until 1938 and at the time of the story the company only flew transpacific with Sikorsky S-42s, an aeroplane with a completely different body than the one used in the scene.
Continuity mistake: When Indy is driving the truck with the ark, a German tries to get in on the right side. Indy kicks the door open twice, and after the second time the top hinge of the door gives easily. The guy is half way dragging on the ground, holding onto the now askew door. Then in the next closeup, the door is hung correctly with the guy on it, and Indy kicks it again. The guy goes dragging again, and then he and the door fall off.
Add timeMovie Nut
Continuity mistake: There is a shot during the truck chase scene where a Nazi falls out from the back of the truck and goes through the windshield of the car behind it. During the shot from inside the truck, we see two Nazis to the left. The one closer to the camera pushes the other one down. However, in the very next shot, we see that pushed-down Nazi immediately sitting up straight.
Other mistake: At the beginning of movie when Indy is about to steal the gold idol, the camera does a close-up of it. The idol has been in a decaying temple for hundreds of years. but it appears shiny and new, as though just placed there. You'd expect the idol to at least be dusty or covered in jungle debris.
Factual error: Several times during the movie, Indy is under fire from Nazis or other bad guys wielding what look like MP-38 sub machine guns. The movie is set in 1936, 2 years before the weapon was even designed. The Erma EMP-36 has wooden parts (the grip), the muzzle spike at under the barrel is more pointy and the front sight are more massive than MP-38/40, and the magazine is tilting slightly forwards towards the muzzle. The MP-38/40 is all stamped sheet metal (no wood, because it would slow down production), the muzzle spike under the barrel is more smooth (maybe so it won't get stuck?) and the front sight is more simple (basically just a ring with rumble strips) than the ERMA's, and the magazine on the MP-38/40 is vertical.
Continuity mistake: When Indy stands inside the Map Room, looking at the model of the city, the rays of the sun are to his left, and they move right and down as the sun rises. But since the entry hole is behind him, that would mean that the sun would be to the right when standing outside - but it was to his left when he entered the hole.
Add timeJacob La Cour
Continuity mistake: When chasing Indy in the truck that he has driven into a fruit market, the Germans in their car are surrounded by fruit sellers. One gives a German soldier a melon, who promptly throws it to the ground on the left side of the car. When the car pulls away, the broken melon lies on the right side.
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